Yep, it’s hard to believe but it’s that time of year again–New Year’s.  To make a resolution or not to make a resolution, THAT is the question.  After–harrumph–fifty plus years of New Year’s that question gets a little “old” don’t you think?

But, we never really stop changing, do we?  We never really stop growing, or at least I hope we don’t.  I’ve learned lessons in recent years which have modified my behavior, and I could never have learned those lessons in my earlier years before I started to experience life’s richness in the form of hardships and blessings.

The grace of a life well lived is that we evolve and grow in wisdom and perspective.  I’m sad that we Americans have lost the art of story telling.  I think that’s something our Irish, Scottish, German and Old Country ancestors possessed that helped younger folks understand life and lessons as they were experiencing them.  That’s why I think it’s so important to continue to read, watch movies, go to plays and so forth because life so often imitates art and we can learn much from the fictional heroes and villains that present themselves on the page, screen and stage.

And to that end, I can’t help but end this post with a wonderful quote out of one of the Harry Potter novels which I found in an article referenced on Twitter.

 

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In case you have trouble expanding the picture it says, “It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.”  

Here’s to more “grow to be” in 2016.  Cheers!

   


Christmas, the season for peace and grace.  No, not externally–we can’t exactly control that; but rather–internally–within ourselves.  No matter what your plans include–whether you’re busy with family and guests or sitting by yourself with a glass of wine–peace and grace are within our reach.  The way we talk to ourselves, the things we say in our minds–those can be changed no matter what the season but particularly on this day of celebration.

I saw this quote on either Twitter or Facebook and I thought it was a good reminder for today and throughout the busy holiday season.

 

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Here’s wishing you a season and New Year filled with grace and peace. All my best to you and yours!

 

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Yesterday was supposed to be my last day of work–Friday The Thirteenth–and ironically three years to the day I started with the organization.  The last six weeks has been indescribable as I say good-bye to wave after wave of people I’ve come to care about.  When my work-through date had been identified several months ago, a girlfriend from a group of seven women who get together monthly suggested we go out for happy hour that evening.  I readily agreed knowing it was probably a healthy thing to spend the evening with people I care about and who care about me.

Somewhere in those intervening months the happy hour turned into a sleepover at a mountain cabin owned by the family of one of the ladies AND my work-through date changed to the end of the year.  But, not to be deterred from an opportunity to share some wine and laughs, we went forward with the gathering.

Thank God for girlfriends!  Not to minimize the importance of my guy friends (you know I love you, too!), but let me say it again…thank God for girlfriends!  Between the laughter and the tears (most of them coming from laughing so hard it hurt), we had a wonderful time with great food, wine, and conversation.  I read a spot-on quote that summarizes the relationship close girlfriends have:  “They know who you are and they like you anyway.”  How true!

I’ve come to treasure time away with close friends.  My college friends and I get together once a year, as well, and spend time updating each other on our lives, sharing our hopes and our fears, and just genuinely caring for and about one another.  As our family situations change with deaths of parents and maturing of children, relationships with friends become even more important to our overall well-being.

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Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.         ~William Butler Yeats

 

Thank you–all of you–who follow this blog.  Many of you are close friends who have helped me immeasurably over the years.  I am so appreciative of YOU!

 

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I love this quote:

I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world.  This makes it hard to plan the day.                ~E.B. White

 

The interesting thing about “self-help work” where you do a lot of reading, meditating, praying, discussing, blogging, etc., is you hear a few clear messages and I’ll summarize at least two themes that track with the above quote.

  1. Enjoy each day.  Be grateful for what you have.  Admire the beauty around you.  Stay in the present.
  2. Never stop striving, learning, challenging yourself and growing.  Envision what you want in the future and go for it.

Is it either/or?  I don’t think so.  I think it’s both/and.  They are not as mutually exclusive as the quote seems to infer.

 

I think we can admire and appreciate the beauty around us while still striving to make a better tomorrow for ourselves and others.  We can be grateful for all the blessings bestowed upon us while still working to  learn and improve.  I think the key is we should never lose sight of how lucky we are to live in a world (and a country) where freedom and opportunity are ours to have.  But, we also shouldn’t refrain from pondering how we can be better stewards in this world, better friends, spouses, parents, teachers, children to our parents, employees to our employers and so forth.  As my Yoga instructor likes to say, “It’s ALL about balance!”

 

What are you going to appreciate today?  What are you open to learning?  And, if you’re undecided, that’s OK too.  There is grace in just “being” whether decisive or indecisive.  Enjoy your day!  Let us know how you spent it.  We will appreciate and learn from it at the same time!  🙂

 

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There’s nothing wrong with a nice glass of wine after a long day–right?  I must admit, I used to come home from work, get changed, feed the cats, make a nice dinner and then pour myself ONE glass of wine.  Over the last year with the stresses of the job, I came home and headed right to the refrigerator to pour myself my FIRST glass of wine.  Then I set about doing the rest of that other stuff.  But, sometimes we go through periods when the following quote kind of summarizes things:

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Don’t you think?

 

 


For those that want to eek every inch out of life, you cannot do it without periods of challenge and difficulty.  And you cannot do it by staying in your comfort zone and doing the same things you’ve always done.  That brings me to my latest favorite Honest Tea quote:

One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long period of time.      ~Andre Gide

Many of you know I’m about to lose my job for the first time in my career.  It would be easy and probably natural to go out and search for a similar position.  But, I feel like I’m at a cross-road and the only way to grow is to move away from what is comfortable and “lose sight of the shore.”

I know some of you are at similar places.  You know how to do some things really, really well.  Is it crazy to challenge ourselves to be different?  To “be still” and let the universe work it’s magic?  It reminds me of Sue Monk Kidd’s book, When the Heart Waits.  There are so many great parts of that book–all that talk about letting go of what is in order to become what can be–but, here’s a quote that compliments our theme for the day:

The minister that Sunday said that security was a denial of life.  I suppose that’s true in the sense that total security eliminates all risk.  And where there’s no risk, there’s no becoming; and where there’s no becoming, there’s no real life.  The real spiritual sojourners–the ones who touch the edges of life as well as the center–are the people who risk, who let go.

So, set sail and lose sight of the shore.

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The Bird of Paradise alights upon the hand that does not grasp.                                      ~Taoist Wisdom

OK, what this says to me is something like, “good things come to those that wait,” or sometimes we try too hard for one thing and something better is right around the corner if we just let it happen.  Sometimes we can’t imagine the good that can come into our life…we think we know how we would be happy.  We imagine our lives a certain way.  But, if we keep ourselves open, the universe can open all sorts of possibilities that we can’t begin to create on our own.

What does it say to you?  Has the spirit of this quote ever come true in your life?

 

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How many of us have worked with or for leaders who thought it was all about the position they attained and they used that position power to wreak havoc on you and the organization you serve?

Then, on the positive side, you come into contact with someone who you don’t even realize he or she is in a position of immense power within a company or community because he/she doesn’t throw it out there, but rather seems more interested in you and your story.

I am in awe of the latter and avoid the former like the plague.  But, it is hard in our western society not to become one of the former.  We’re encouraged to “tweet” or “post” our accomplishments, awards, or brilliant thinking and we reward upward career ladder progression with accolades, money, perks, fame (think Donald Trump here) and so forth.

If only our society could embrace the model of Servant Leadership.  This phrase was originally coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in The Servant as Leader, in an essay he published in 1970.  In that essay, Greenleaf said:

The servant-leader is servant first…it begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.  Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead.  That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types.  Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.

The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served.  The best test, and difficult to administer, is:  Do those served grow as persons?  Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?  And what is the effect on the least privileged in society?  Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?

So when I read my Honest Tea cap today that said, “Leadership is action not position” (Donald H. McGannon), I reflected on which end of the above continuum I operate.  I cannot tell you with a straight face and honest heart that I’ve always been at the “servant” end of that continuum.  I can only hope for the grace of evolution as I journey through time.

Which end of the continuum are you on?


Well, I admit I was intrigued by the news tonight about Jennifer Lawrence, the Hollywood star who is a top box office draw and has played in many recent popular movies.  She has spoken out about equal pay for men and women and how frustrated she was to learn that her American Hustle co-stars (Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper) were both paid more than she was for the award-winning movie.  This is kind of an on-going SWOG discussion.    Here is what she said during the interview:

Jennifer Lawrence is sick of trying to make you like her if it means she won’t get equal treatment

In a powerful essay for Lenny Letter, a new email newsletter from Lena Dunham and Girls producer Jenni Konner, Lawrence writes about how frustrated she was to learn that her male American Hustle co-stars were making more than her. But Lawrence doesn’t just rail against Sony; she rails against the systemic sexism that made her afraid to speak up in the first place:

When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn’t get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early. I didn’t want to keep fighting over millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, I don’t need.

…But if I’m honest with myself, I would be lying if I didn’t say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight. I didn’t want to seem “difficult” or “spoiled.” At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the Internet and realized every man I was working with definitely didn’t worry about being “difficult” or “spoiled.”

She goes on to detail how her need to be “likable” taps into years of social conditioning for women, who are often punished for being more aggressive in work situations — especially when it comes to negotiating for higher pay:

A few weeks ago at work, I spoke my mind and gave my opinion in a clear and no-bullshit way; no aggression, just blunt. The man I was working with (actually, he was working for me) said, “Whoa! We’re all on the same team here!” As if I was yelling at him. I was so shocked because nothing that I said was personal, offensive, or, to be honest, wrong. All I hear and see all day are men speaking their opinions, and I give mine in the same exact manner, and you would have thought I had said something offensive.

And finally, Lawrence says she’s had enough of trying to maintain her “likable” reputation while pursuing equal treatment:

I’m over trying to find the “adorable” way to state my opinion and still be likable!

So, here we go again!  What say you SWOG readers…men and women?  I’m interested in your perspectives!  Does a woman have to be liked to be successful?  And to be liked, does she sacrifice her ability to negotiate?  Is it the same for any one in a minority?  Including older workers?

I watched it happen again in my recent experience…strong women’s voices were shut out because they were regarded as too aggressive.  We are in 2015 and I know we’ve made progress, but it seems there are still many hurdles to overcome.